India non-committal on visit by Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi
If the visit goes ahead, it will be the first by a senior Chinese leader to India since the two countries were locked in a dragging standoff in Ladakh sector of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in May 2020. The Chinese side has reportedly sought meetings with Wang’s counterpart, external affairs minister S Jaishankar, and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval.
India was on Thursday non-committal on reports of a visit to the country by Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi later this month, with external affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi saying he had “no information” to share on the matter.
The Chinese side has proposed a trip to India by Wang as part of his plans to travel to several countries in the region from March 22. Wang is expected to be in Pakistan during March 22-23 to attend a meeting of foreign ministers of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and he will visit Nepal during March 26-27.
Other countries that are expected to be part of Wang’s itinerary are Bangladesh and Bhutan. The Indian and Chinese sides have been in touch regarding Beijing’s proposal though people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday the visit is not fully firmed up and dates have not been confirmed.
Asked at a weekly media briefing about the reports regarding Wang’s proposed visit to India, Bagchi said: “I have a very short answer on this. I don’t have any information to share on this at this moment.”
If the visit goes ahead, it will be the first by a senior Chinese leader to India since the two countries were locked in a dragging standoff in Ladakh sector of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in May 2020. The Chinese side has reportedly sought meetings with Wang’s counterpart, external affairs minister S Jaishankar, and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval. Wang and Doval are also the Special Representatives for talks on the border issue between the two countries.
The standoff on the LAC, and a brutal clash in Galwan Valley in June 2020 that resulted in the death of 20 Indian soldiers and at least four Chinese troops, have taken bilateral relations to an all-time low.
Responding to another question on Indian students being unable to return to China to complete their courses because of Covid-19-related restrictions, Bagchi said the Indian embassy in Beijing and the external affairs ministry has taken up this matter with Chinese authorities on numerous occasions.
“We have highlighted the plight of the students and how the continuation of these stringent restrictions was putting the academic careers of thousands of students in jeopardy,” he said, adding Jaishankar had personally raised this issue with Wang when they met in Dushanbe last September.
The Indian side has noted a statement made by the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson on February 8 that China is “considering, in a coordinated manner, arrangements for allowing foreign students to return to China for their studies”, and another statement on March 14 that work was underway for the return of some foreign students.
“But let me clarify that till date, the Chinese side has not given any categorical response about the return of Indian students. We will continue to urge the Chinese side to adopt a congenial stance in the interest of our students and that they facilitate an early return to China so that our students can pursue their studies,” Bagchi said.
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